Several prominent industry associations are calling on the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to withdraw its proposal to make changes to the worker walkaround designation process.
On Aug. 29, OSHA issued a proposal with the Federal Registrar to amend its Representatives of Employers and Employees regulation that would resurrect an Obama-era and allow a third-party employee representative to be present during Compliance Safety and Health Officer Inspections (CSHO).
OSHA said the proposed rule seeks to “aid OSHA’s workplace inspections by better enabling employees to select a representative of their choice to accompany the CSHO during a physical workplace inspection.”
Specifically, OSHA proposes to revise 29 CFR 1903.8(c) to clarify that (1) a representative authorized by employees may be an employee of the employer or a non-employee third party, and (2) employees may authorize a third-party representative reasonably necessary to conduct an effective and thorough physical inspection of the workplace by virtue of their knowledge, skills, or experience.
Pushback from various industry trade groups has cited the potential for representatives from unions or other organizations to fulfill this role, even in workplaces where there is no union representation.
On Nov. 13, the National Associaton of Wholesaler-Distributors shared comments it filed from its Government Relations Officer, Brian Wild:
“The proposal does not serve anyone that is interested in furthering workplace safety, and OSHA should abandon it. As drafted, the proposal conflicts with federal labor law, violates property rights, endangers trade secrets and increases liability risks.”
Likewise, Associated Builders and Contractors shared comments it filed on Nov. 13 from ABC Vice President of Health, Safety, Environment and Workforce Development:
“The Biden administration is trying to revive a failed Obama-era initiative, which was bad policy then and is bad policy now. This power grab does nothing to promote workplace health and safety, and instead pushes the administration’s ‘all-of-government’ agenda to encourage unions and collective bargaining. The potential harm that small construction contractors face here is very high. OSHA can have a bigger impact on jobsite safety by fostering positive partnerships with employers and promoting safety practices that produce results.”
“It is especially concerning that the proposed rule fails to provide clarity in a number of key areas. There is no restriction on the number of different third-party representatives who may be present for a single inspection, nor on how many employees may request different representatives. Additionally, the rule fails to provide any safety expertise criteria for the selection of third-party representatives. It also gives no guidance on how OSHA or an inspector should approve these requests or what is ‘reasonably necessary.”
Read more of Sizemore’s comments at ABC’s press release.